Dewey Beach Firefighter Prank




It was the summer of 1973. My family was staying at the Redefer Court Cottages at Dewey Beach, Delaware. I was eleven years old and my younger sister was nine. We stayed at the cottages every summer for one week from Saturday to Saturday. This time was different because my older sister and her husband accompanied us. My older sister was twenty-one. She would do fun stuff with us that my parents did not want to do. We'd go to Mezick's Shell Garden and look at all the cool sea shells. We would eat at Grotto's Pizza for New York style pizza like we'd never tasted before. 

It wasn't a summer vacation without a trip to Funland at the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk with the bumper cars, carousel, and the flying cages. The flying cages were also known as the swinging gym. They are a piece of uninsurable carnival history based on all of the injuries and lawsuits, but we loved them anyway. My older sister lived life to the fullest and had no fear. She was a great role model on how to love life.  

The Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company was giving away plastic volunteer firefighters helmets for  some safety event. We each got a plastic firefighter helmet. Those helmets had a strange mischief breeding effect on us. The helmets were a recipe for a prank like no one had ever thought of. We wore them for the rest of the day like we were members of some sort of elite ninja firefighters squad. Everywhere we went, people asked about the helmets. Each encounter, we produced a different story.

The stories varied from we were junior fire fighters in training to we were midget fire fighters. Each time the stories got wilder and wilder. One story introduced the fictional National Beach Volunteer Firefighter Day. Our creativity knew no boundaries as we made friends with strangers all over town as we answered their curious questions with wildly entertaining stories as only Mark Twain could tell.

When we got back to the cottages we were feeling pretty cocky all jacked up on cola and pizza. We needed to take that bravado and pull a master prank. My older sister had a great sense of humor and was good at pranks. We walked down to the beach and found our prank target. We saw two older couples sitting around a bonfire roasting marshmallows singing songs. My older sister came up with the prank of a lifetime.

She told us to make fire siren sounds after she got a bucket that we filled with water.  We jogged to the beach in a column with our arms rotating in circles like a train chugging to the bonfire while making fire siren sounds. We circled the fire twice, then my brother-in-law poured the bucket of water onto the fire putting it out. The two middle aged couples sat there with their mouths hanging open in shock never saying a single word. Their eyes were big as saucers as they stared at us like we were aliens. We jogged off still making fire siren sounds until we were over the sand dunes. The prank still makes me laugh when I tell the story to my kids forty years later.